Kerala Blasters midfielder Sahal Abdul Samad believes that there should be a healthy competition between the Indian and foreign footballers playing in the Indian Super League (ISL) clubs.
The foreign player quota in Indian football has been a hot topic up for debate this year. The ISL has been gradually decreasing the number of foreign players each club can sign every year and it will once again follow that process for the 2020-21 season which will see a maximum of four foreigners on the field at a time.
The idea behind such a move is to ensure is that the clubs recruit quality foreigners from their budget, among other factors.
While some believe that foreigners are eating into the minutes of Indian players, the argument against the notion is about how their experience may be helpful to the local talents in the team.
"I can proudly say that quality foreign players are important for the development of Indian players," Sahal told Goal. "The experience they bring helps us cope with the challenges on the pitch. Reducing the number of foreigners has its own advantages as well as disadvantages. There will be more opportunities to play for Indian players. Such a healthy competition will be helpful for Indian football in the long run," he weighed in.
Sahal was part of a Kerala Blasters squad that had the likes of Bartholomew Ogbeche, Sergio Cidoncha and Mario Arques but struggled for regular first-team minutes under Dutch head coach Eelco Schattorie who was replaced at the end of the season.
Despite the diminished role after a 'Player Of The Year' award-winning season, the Malayali midfielder feels he learnt a lot from the Dutchman and is keen on putting the learnings into practice next season.
"It (first-team role) is up to the coach and the tactics for each game. I am happy with my performances last season. If I did not start regularly, it was for the team. I followed my coach's instructions and I am pleased with everything I learnt under Eelco Schattorie," the 23-year-old said.
He further added, "People can say whatever they want. I take it positively. The coach and others around me guided me well last season, I think it helped my game. I take suggestions positively and I believe it will help me in the future.